“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
It’s often tempting to run from pain and offense when, and often especially when, it involves your close friends, family, and church family (those we ought to be closest to and closely committed to). I’ve been there. I’ve felt it. It’s easy to be too quick to say, “Forget it! I’m done.” We prepare ourselves to sever long standing relationships in what seems like a blink of an eye. We would rather walk away than try to work it out. If you recall, Peter thought along those lines. Surely, he could stop forgiving his brother after the 7th time, right? What did Jesus say in response? No, forgive him 70×7. (Read Matthew 18)
Beloved, the bottom line is that we always need to forgive! I know the pain hurts. It’s uncomfortable, but consider this- How much has God forgiven you? How kind and patient has He been with you? Paul’s words to the saints in Ephesus are piercing and helpful in breaking through our defenses- “forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” This is such a deep standard that challenges our thoughts of, “But, I don’t want to forgive him! You don’t understand what he/she did. I’ll forgive her for this, but not that.”, etc. and gives us a new lens to look through. As you think about your reluctance to forgive, how much has God in Christ forgiven you? As we consider the gravity of the offense of our sin against the holy, living God and the wonder of His mercy and forgiveness that we have in Christ, we can’t but forgive! Clearly, the path to reconciliation will require wise navigation as you work through things together, but it’s good and worth every step. Sincere forgiveness is key!
I encourage you today- don’t run from, but rather, with kind and tender hearts, pursue those who have offended you. Have a God-honoring desire and be obedient to Christ to forgive them, pray for them, pressing forward with His help, to work to reconcile with them. The Body of Christ has been and can be torn apart by people refusing to forgive and reconcile with one another. May God grant us all grace to be committed to repair and strengthen bonds that have been damaged or broken, that we may walk together more and more in love, unity and peace, being firmly grounded in Christ and His Word!